Having grown up in the bush in New England, co-founder of the Oak Tree Group Mark Bindon believes that every Australian deserves a relaxed, secure, and lower maintenance retirement. He has always had a love for regional communities and the people that reside in them.
Coming from a background in economics, Mark always had a strong interest in property as well as the seniors sector, as he knew it was a huge market and the number of Australian seniors was expanding rapidly. So, when he realised how poorly the industry was being serviced after spending two years researching it in depth, he immediately knew he wanted to create a brand that would not necessarily be the biggest, but the very best in the field of independent senior living.
Mark travelled around Australia with Oak Tree co-founder Franco De Pasquale, looking at the villages of other operators, and quickly saw that smaller, private operators were providing the best retirement solution for older Australians. This led them to decide on their model which hasn’t changed to this day – boutique, suburban based retirement villages servicing a very localised audience.
With Franco coming from a legal background and Mark a background in economics, they pooled their knowledge base and began with some small developments funded by their own money. These projects paired with Mark’s upbringing and love for regional communities led them to identify the regional markets as the area in which they wanted to grow quickly, as they felt there wasn’t enough infrastructure and in order to retire, seniors were having to uproot themselves from everything they knew. To this day, Mark and Franco are driven by their passion for ensuring Australian seniors can retire in the places they’re familiar with and have put down their roots.
From the very beginning, the most important thing for Mark was being vertically integrated and taking a personal approach to retirement living. He wanted the residents who moved into Oak Tree villas to know him and Franco by name and felt that to put the best possible product on the ground for them, he had to have control of every aspect of the development.
Almost 20 years on, the Oak Tree Group still manage every facet of the business internally, from identifying potential sites and conducting market research, to designing the villa floorplans and selling the villas. Mark and Franco are still heavily involved in the business, visiting the villages regularly and knowing many of the residents by name. They continue to be motivated by their passion for keeping seniors local and providing them with an affordable, secure, and relaxed retirement.